After the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, we thought we should start recognizing and praising those who stand up for artist rights. We will also identify those who oppose artist rights and tell you why we think they are villains. Not all of these people will be famous and you may not recognize some of their names, but that’s kind of the point. We also want to emphasize that we’re not comparing anyone to anyone else, we’re just appreciating people for what they do and who they are–on both sides.
When we look back on the last year, there’s probably no one who did more for artist rights than Taylor Swift. She really did not need to take on these issues, she could easily have sat back and let the money roll in.
And yet she did. She put her career on the line and challenged the definitive “new boss” digital business–Spotify. She challenged them in a very straightforward way by simply saying no. Taylor had a lot to lose, and she went above and beyond to stand up to the “new boss.”
Spotify’s Daniel Ek revealed himself and did his best to play the “Lars card”–he talked down to her and attacked her. Not as badly as the calculated and well-financed humiliation of Metallica by Napster’s litigation PR team, but a strain of it. Can you imagine Steve Jobs doing that? No way. But that’s OK, we finally got the evidence on who this guy Ek really is and what his company really stands for. Same old same old.
Taylor also showed that you don’t need YouTube, either–and she turned her team loose to present herself on YouTube the way she wanted, not the way YouTube wanted to force her to be presented.
She challenged The Man 2.0 by simply being who she was and exercising her rights as an artist–the very rights that the “new boss” constantly tries to take away from us. It’s really simple: The new boss needs hits, and hits don’t need the new boss.
And Taylor Swift showed us that artists can be strong and classy and successful, all at the same time. She reminded us that it’s OK to take care of our business the way each of us want. And she said it in the Wall Street Journal!
Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.